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October 3, 2016

Strong Workforce panelistsOn September 30, SDWP CEO Peter Callstrom and Workforce Development Board members Dr. Sunita Cooke — President of Mira Costa Community College District and Co-Chair of the Board of Governors Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation and a Strong Economy — and Dr. Carlos Cortez — President of San Diego Continuing Education — participated on a workforce and career technical education panel called Strong Workforce Training Program: Tools to Maximize Your Workforce Funding, organized by the California Community Colleges’ Association of Chief Business Officials (ACBO) and the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.

Representatives from community college districts throughout California attended the gathering, which helped them navigate the $200 million investment under the state’s Strong Workforce Initiative.

Also on the panel were Mollie Smith, Dean of the School of Career and Technical Education at the Long Beach Community College District, and Mario Rodriguez, Vice Chancellor of College Finance and Facilities Planning at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Dr. Bonnie Ann Dowd, Executive Vice Chancellor of Business and Technology Services at San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) and ACBO board member, moderated the panel.

Peter Callstrom, Dr. Sunita Cooke, Dr. Carlos CortezThe overall theme of the panel was that community college districts and workforce boards have to work more closely together in order not to duplicate efforts or work against each other.

Though change can be scary, it is also exciting, said Dr. Cortez. “The work we do SHOULD lead to outcomes.”

“Sharing of information is critical,” added Dr. Cooke.

Callstrom encouraged community college districts to be persistent in working with their local workforce boards, acknowledging that even in San Diego County, there wasn’t always a close working relationship between the community colleges and the workforce board. He credits Dr. Cooke with being “relentless” in forging a relationship between SDWP and SDCCD.

“Some of the biggest barriers are the ones we create ourselves,” said Callstrom, who hopes to continue to de-bureaucratize the workforce system and have SDWP be a convener of stakeholders and partners in the region. “Now, we have the right people on the board,” he said, referring to Drs. Cooke and Cortez, whose expertise in the community college ecosystem inform the work undertaken by SDWP.



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